The Research School of Psychology: Annual Lecture - Professor Pat Dudgeon

Presented by ANU College of Health & Medicine

The RSP Annual Lecture is a highlight of our year, showcasing the significant impact of Psychology on community and social issues. This years lecture will feature Professor Pat Dudgeon speaking on the topic of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health research in Australia. As a Mental Health Commissioner and the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia, Professor Dudgeon has made outstanding contributions to Indigenous psychology, higher education and the emotional wellbeing of Indigenous communities. 

Title

Different Paradigms: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Research In Australia

Abstract

Indigenous psychology is an emerging global movement. This presentation will provide a brief overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and will examine promising initiatives that herald an Australian Indigenous Psychology.

At the core of an emerging Indigenous psychology are concepts of community ownership and valuing culture. The mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has become a critical issue and available data suggests an entrenched, worsening, mental health crisis. This is seen in reported high rates of psychological distress, hospitalisation for mental health conditions and most critically, increasing suicide rates. It is timely that the mental health professions have begun to engage with Indigenous people in ways that will assist recovery and cultural maintenance. In recent times, the emergence of Indigenous paradigms is seen as an important way forward. In particular, social and emotional wellbeing as a new paradigm will discussed.

Social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) has emerged as an important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concept of mental health and wellbeing. SEWB recognises the importance of connection to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community, and how these affect the individual, family and community. SEWB issues cover a broad range of problems that can result from unresolved grief and loss, trauma and abuse, domestic violence, removal from family, substance misuse, family breakdown, cultural dislocation, racism and discrimination, and social disadvantage. The Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) has developed this concept further.

The application of a strength based, community inclusive approach is shown in the recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) that was instigated to address suicide prevention. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide occurs at double the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of 15 to 34 years of age, accounting for 1 in 3 deaths. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rates can vary markedly by age, gender and other factors.  The national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project was set up to identify success factors in Indigenous suicide prevention. These were published in 2016 in Solutions That Work: What the Evidence and What Our People Tell Us Report. The process of this project will be discuss and how outcomes have been translated  into real action in communities and government will be discussed.

About the speaker

Professor Pat Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberly area in Western Australia. She is a psychologist and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. Pat is a Professor and Poche Research Fellow at the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Western Australia. Her area of research includes Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Professor Dudgeon biography

Registration

This event is by invitation only. If you would like to attend and have not received an invitation, please contact Karina Bird

Guests are welcome to arrive from 3:30pm for drinks and canapés, with the lecture commencing at 4:00pm.